Black ExperiencePolitics

Ron Dellums, 82, Venerable Political Stalwart, Dies

Ron Dellums, who served nearly three decades as a forceful liberal in the political arena, died early Monday, according to a former aide. He was 82.

The former aide, Dan Lindheim, said Dellums had been battling cancer.

Dellums, a former congressman in California’s Bay Area, was a Marine-turned-antiwar activist who never walked away from a fight. He made that clear during his first run for Congress in 1970, when Republican Vice President Spiro Agnew pointedly branded the then-Berkeley councilman as “an out-and-out radical” who needed to be “purged from the body politic” for his stance against the war in Vietnam and up-front fight against social ills.

However, that attack, like many others tossed at him during his decades on the political battlefield, never fazed Dellums.

“If it’s radical to oppose the insanity and cruelty of the Vietnam War, if it’s radical to oppose racism and sexism and all other forms of oppression, if it’s radical to want to alleviate poverty, hunger, disease, homelessness and other forms of human misery, then I’m proud to be called a radical,” he responded at the time to a crowd of reporters at his campaign headquarters.

Dellums, who was re-elected several times and served one term as mayor of Oakland, California, was also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus in the early 1980s.

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